Peninah Wambui prepares chapatis for sale to residents of Mlango Kubwa at her Kibanda along Juja Road. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITUPeninah Wambui prepares chapatis for sale to residents of Mlango Kubwa at her Kibanda along Juja Road. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU
By FRANCIS NDERITU

Nairobi’s Eastlands area is infamous for many things; from insecurity, rampant crime, deplorable public amenities to poor housing and infrastructure.

While these are a turn off to many city dwellers who would rather seek residency in other parts of town, life in Eastlands is not all about gloom and doom.

There are plenty advantages of living on the east side of town. Of these, what comes to mind first is the relative affordability of commuting to and from the CBD.

True, in some neigbourhoods the fare often peaks between Sh80-100, especially when it rains or the police have mounted a crackdown on errant public transport operators. Or even when ‘mwezi iko corner’.

Such are the times when the more affordable option of a train ride, at a pocket friendly cost of Sh40, comes in handy.

Mama-Mboga

Mary Wambui Kimani, a ‘Mama Mboga’, at her grocery shop by the roadside. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

Then there is the issue of basic needs such as food. In most Eastlands neigbourhoods, food is almost always in supply 24/7. A good number of small scale traders have learnt to maximize their earnings by extending their daily hours of operation well into the night.

As late as 11pm chapati makers, milk vendors and mama mbogas are often still open for business to the late comers.

MUTUTHO CURFEW

And for the party animals, the ‘Mututho’ curfew has long been banished into ancient history. Many of the bars that dot these neigbourhoods usually operate well beyond the prescribed closing time of 11pm.

For those whose budget often doesn’t allow them a drink at a decent watering hole, there is always the ever-ready option of keg bars.

A young woman sell groundnuts on a footbridge by the roadside. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

A young woman sell groundnuts on a footbridge by the roadside. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

And we haven’t even mentioned the luxury of Pay TV from the comfort of many tenants’ living rooms; all thanks to ‘DSTV mwitu’ – an attractive package that comes with more than 30 channels for just as little as Sh1,000 per month, or even less.

Affordable internet is also available with most estate cyber cafes selling out the extra bandwidth via Lan Cabling from house to house.

Illegal-connection

A man scales an electricity pole to access an illegal line of Pay TV connection in an estate in Nairobi’s Eastlands area. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

All these are illegal connections which are often disconnected by the authorities, only to get reconnected by the quack ‘service providers’ within minutes.

Come Sunday, the plethora of churches in the neigbourhood join in the fun to drum home the message of the Good Book to all and sundry, whether or not you wish to listen to the loud sermons.